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Drones! Self-driving cars! 5G network-connected gadgets! See-through TVs!

Those are among the innovations featured at this week’s CES 2019 consumer technology trade show in Las Vegas, the annual showcase for high-tech innovations that promise to change your life. But there are plenty of other, somewhat less high-tech products debuting at the big show that can have just as much of an impact your daily life, but might get overlooked.

Like the tip jar that gives you coupons.

Tip jars at places like coffee shops, restaurants and bars can sometimes be sources of controversy and Irritation for customers and staffers alike – some customers feel pressured to give, and some staffers feel undervalued if not enough people do.

So the “Tip-For-Tip Jar” aims to encourage more tipping, by giving tippers something in return.

The inventors of this didn’t-know-you-needed-it-but-can’t-believe-you’ve-lived-without-it product are among more than 100 exhibitors at the trade show, jockeying to grab attendees’ attention. “The world’s first coupon dispensing tip jar,” they explain, “was created to enhance the relationship between customer service and customer tipping through a unique and innovative way of giving back”.

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All a customer needs to do is put bills or change through a slot at the top of the tip jar. That triggers a sensor which spits a coupon out from a slot at the bottom of the jar. When ordering their customized jar on the Tip-For-Tip Jar website, businesses can design their own coupons, redeemable for whatever product and whatever value they’d like.

In addition to discounts, coupons can also be customized to include “inspirational quotes, entertaining jokes and riddles, fun facts” and other messages.

“Your customers will love the entire Tip-For-Tip Jar experience and look forward to tipping again and again!” the company’s website promises. For business owners, it could also help keep their employees happy, by encouraging customers to give them a little something extra.

And a professionally-designed, high-tech tip jar is a lot less of an eyesore than an actual jar with a sloppy hand-written sign reading “TIPS”.

The Tip-For-Tip Jar is designed for use in service businesses. But if it catches on, who knows? Coupon fans might be so impressed, they’d be willing to tip their grocery store cashiers in order to get a coupon for a coveted item like a box of cereal or a loaf of bread. Of course, there might end up being those who try to game the system – you get the same coupon, after all, whether you tip a dollar or a penny. And particularly coupon-hungry customers could conceivably insert their tip one coin at a time, to get as many coupons as they can.

But the makers of the Tip-For-Tip Jar are trying to appeal to people’s better instincts, focusing on the positive benefits of their product. It may not generate the kind of press and attention that the various voice-activated, artificially-intelligent, smart devices at CES are likely to get. But at least this is no prototype – it’s something that’s available right now, that could make a small but important improvement in our everyday lives.

Still, if you’re interested, offering coupons for tips doesn’t come cheap. The asking price for a Tip-For-Tip Jar is $295.

So if you see a Tip-For-Tip Jar on the counter of a business near you, feel free to contribute generously. It will take a whole lot of coins to help that tip jar pay for itself.

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